Typical Bee Hive Configuration


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This is a short presentation on the basic components of a modern beehive. It doesn't go into managing bees in any detail, it's mainly meant to give a novice beekeeper an idea of what she should buy to prepare for their first colony.

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  • The winehouse beehive is not commonly used in this area but is perhaps the best known contemporary beehive
  • This is another famouse beehive, the Whitehouse beehive. We’ll come back to this one when we’re done looking at the parts.
  • This diagram shows a more typical modern hive. We’ll be looking at each of these parts in the rest of the presentation.
  • The base and the bottom board form the foundation of the hive. This base has a landing board that makes it easier for the bees to get back into the hive. This is a pretty fancy base and not really required. As you saw with the Whitehouse hive bases come in all shapes and sizes. Cinder blocks are a favorite choice for many of us.

    The bottom board shown here is a screened bottom board. next
  • Screened bottom boards are not required but highly recommended at least by me.
  • These are the boxes that form the body of the hive. These are catalog pictures of unpainted equipment. Yours will be painted. These come in 3 depths. Typically or traditionally beekeepers used two deep hives as the brood chamber and put as many supers on top as the bees would fill with honey. Because the deep hive bodies did not typically have to be moved much they could be heavier and fewer boxes & frames means less work & less expense building them. A lot of beekeepers also standardize on medium boxes and use them for the whole hive.
  • There are a lot of options in selection of frames and foundation. Building wooden frames, wiring them and installing foundation is the most time consuming and expensive parts of starting a new colony. Most commercial or large scale beekeepers use either completely plastic frames as pictured above or use plastic foundation in a wooden frame. I’ve had luck with all 3 approaches. This is something you should talk to other beekeepers about and probably experiment with.
  • There are any number of variations on these basic themes.
  • Entrance reducers are used when the colony is young and in the winter.
  • We’re going to Forest Hill because it’s close and good quality. All of these others are good suppliers. Brushy Mountain has been very good at supporting the efforts of local bee organizations. The big problem with all of them is shipping. You can expect to pay $35 - 40 for shipping on a complete hive, which drives the price up significantly.
  • Typical Bee Hive Configuration

    1. 1. HIVE AND WOODENWARE BASICS Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild
    2. 2. The Winehouse Beehive Not common in this area
    3. 3. The Whitehouse Beehive feeder supers excluder brood boxes hive stand? sawhorses and planks
    4. 4. Anatomy of a Beehive
    5. 5. A good base A base sits on the ground. You don’t need anything this fancy. You can use cinder blocks or whatever you have. The point is to keep the bottom board off the ground The bottom board is what it says. The rest of the hive stacks on top of it and it has one open side that lets the bees go in and out of the hive.
    6. 6. Screens Required A screened bottom board has a hardware cloth screen instead of solid wood. This is essential for controlling mites. Mites are parasites that can kill your colony. With a screened bottom board they fall through the screen and can’t get back on your bees. This can reduce mite population by 30%
    7. 7. A matter of depth Deep or Hive Medium or Shallow Super Body Illinois Super 5 11/16 deep 9 1/8 deep 6 5/8 deep ~25 lb when ~60+ lb when ~35 lb when filled with filled with filled with honey honey honey
    8. 8. Frames and Foundations The frame is where the action is. The wooden frame bees build their comb in the frames using the foundation as a template. wax foundation LOTS of options here. Wax foundation with embedded plastic foundation wires Several kinds of plastic foundation plastic frame/foundation No foundation Small Cell, Drone, etc.
    9. 9. Frame parts Top Bar - wedge or grooved wire is used with wax foundation if the frame will go in an extractor Sides - match the depth of the box Bottom Bar - divided or grooved
    10. 10. Frame Styles Wooden Frames Wax Foundation (wedge top bar, divided bottom bar) Wax is usually reinforced with wire or pins Plastic Foundation (grooved top & bottom bar) Plastic Frames - one piece frame and foundation Wooden Frames with no foundation
    11. 11. Topping it off Inner cover sits directly on top of the hive. It controls access and provides a minimal area for the bees to propolize. Outer cover or telescoping cover has a lip that comes down over the sides. It provides protection and lets you control access and ventilation.
    12. 12. Feeders There are lots of ways to feed your bees. Jars are the cheapest and at a small scale the easiest. You can also use ziploc style plastic bags.
    13. 13. A few other necessities Entrance reducer gives a new or weak colony a smaller opening to defend Mouse guards are used in the winter to keep out mammals. You can use 1/2” hardware cloth for this. Queen excluders are used to keep the queen from getting into the supers and laying eggs.
    14. 14. Typical Configurations All Medium Deep & Supers
    15. 15. Common Variations on the Theme 8 frame - The boxes hold only 8 frames instead of 10. Smaller boxes are lighter and easier to handle Plastic - Molded from polystyrene: no nailing required, well insulated, light Top Bar - Bees build comb from bars without frames. ???
    16. 16. Plan for success Don’t just buy the minimum to save money. You want everything to be ready to go when you need it. Decide on how you will feed and extract your honey Start saving your spaghetti jars Keep in touch with the Guild for extraction events
    17. 17. Tools of the trade Beekeepers love gizmos You don’t need that much - veil, smoker, hive tool, gloves These are best purchased through one of the big online houses. They’re light and shipping won’t kill you. Please ask one of the experienced beekeepers after the program if you have questions
    18. 18. Group Order The club is organizing an order from Forest Hill Woodworking in Lancaster County Deadline for this order is 2/25 2 standard configurations: All medium (6 boxes) - $190.00 2 Deep, 3 medium - $180.00 includes boxes, frames, wax foundation, screened bottom board, inner & outer covers, entrance reducer & mouse guard; delivery & assembly workshop - you will have to assemble and paint your equipment but we’ll show you how.
    19. 19. Assembly Workshop We will bring all the equipment to Green on Greene - 6819 Greene St. on Saturday March 13. You will be able to pick it up there. No other arrangements can be made at this time. We will have a few beekeepers there to show you how to put your equipment together (it’s easy)
    20. 20. Other Places to Buy Brushy Mountain Bee Farm - http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com/ Brushy Mountain offers free shipping on your first order to Guild members - this is a great deal! Dadant - https://www.dadant.com Kelley Bees - http://www.kelleybees.com/ Drapers Super Bee Apiaries - http://www.draperbee.com/index.htm Beeline -814-585-4699 Many Others